A Walk Among The Tombstones (Blu-ray Review)

A Walk Among The TombstonesLiam Neeson stars in A Walk Among the Tombstones, an action-thriller based on Lawrence Block’s bestselling series of mystery novels. Neeson plays Matt Scudder, an ex-cop turned unlicensed private investigator who reluctantly agrees to help a heroin trafficker (Dan Stevens, TV’s Downton Abbey) hunt down the men who brutally murdered his wife. When the PI learns that this is not the first time, nor will it be the last, that these men have committed this sort of twisted crime, he must blur the line between right and wrong as he races to track the deviants through the backstreets of New York City before they kill again.


A Walk Among The Tombstones


Liam Neeson is back in this latest thriller called A Walk Among The Tombstones. The film is based on the best-selling novel written by Lawrence Block. The film follows jaded former New York Detective Matthew Scudder, a recovering alcoholic, who now lives and works as a private investigator. When a local drug kingpin seeks his help in finding the men who viciously murdered his wife Scudder will use everything in the former police officer’s/private investigator handbook to seek answers. There will definitely be some pitfalls along the way but true evil awaits.

When I first saw the trailer for the film I was blown away, because it almost seemed as if Neeson was stacking his projects – action picture upon action picture, etc. Make no mistake, I enjoy watching him dispense justice but the trailer for A Walk Among The Tombstones was visually arresting, dark, and grim. It also had a very cool cover of Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun. I was sold. Unfortunately, I missed it in theaters, but when it hit Blu-ray I was all over it. It’s also the second film to be directed by one of my favorite screenwriters working today: Scott Frank (The Lookout, Out of SightMinority Report). I knew I would be in for something special.

From the hypnotic opening to the hardcore action beats Tombstones takes no prisoners…literally. We see the man Scudder is and becomes. He’s a very apathetic individual when he’s on the force, some would say “corrupt,” but he’s also an alcoholic, which dulls the corruption part of him. Scudder also has a heavy burden that lingers long after he’s left the force, which I will not spoil, that makes for some pretty well timed motivation for his character. I remember after I watched the trailer for the film I scooped and devoured the first three Matthew Scudder novels, which Block wrote back in the mid-70’s, and they were great. In fact, you get Scudder’s origin in the first novel, which plays out here in Tombstones. It should also be mentioned that A Walk Among The Tombstones is the thirteenth novel of the Matthew Scudder series. Yeah, he’s been around.

As far as the film’s aesthetic – it’s pretty brilliant. It has a very neo-noir look to it very reminiscent of the recent Equalizer film that was released in 2014. Compositionally wise the perspectives used in Tombstones were great. Checkout the way the later scene at the laundromat is framed. The cinematography is outstanding – you’re literally watching paintings on film. I may have mentioned that the film did not do great box-office business and that may have had something to do with this not being a typical action-revenge film. It’s a bleak and brutal film and it may have depressed the general movie-going audience a bit.

Now that the film is on Blu-ray – here’s hoping that it gets a second life or given an actual chance. I do think it’s a better film than Non-StopTaken 2, etc., but the stronger-darker material push it forward a bit, because we really haven’t seen Neeson go into the darkness of this world in A Walk Among The Tombstones. 


A Walk Among The Tombstones


Encoding: AVC/MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail: New York looks very overcast here, in almost every scene, actually, and the Blu-ray transfer captures it quite well. Details are fine and the transfer picks those up, too.

Depth: Get ready to dive into some serious compositions that this 1080p presentation provides. The noir factor plays heavily into this as every shot/frame looks epic.

Black Levels: There are several scenes that take place in darkly lit interiors and exteriors and the transfer does those scenes justice. Crush is noticeably absent (good!) and black levels remain deep and inky.

Color Reproduction: There are very few scenes of actual bright and bold color throughout the film but when they make their appearance the palette shines. Yes, some of those scenes that use color as a weapon are clearly used for stylistic purposes and they do their job. The rest of the color wheel is deeply muted.

Flesh Tones: Complexions can be hit and miss since everyone has a kind of gloom to their character but overall look as well as they can. Aside from someone dead or dying everyone looks okay.

Noise/Artifacts: I did not detect any instances of intrusive noise or artifacts. A speck here and there but it gave the picture some added character.



A Walk Among The Tombstones


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 5.1, DVS 2.0, Spanish DTS Surround 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: The lossless 5.1 soundtrack is extremely aggressive and puts the viewer right next to Scudder as he takes out the crime trash. It’s loud but calms down when moments of non-action come into play.

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer gave the action elements a kick in the pants and only during action beats, which was appreciated. Guns have an added “cannon” flourish that makes you feel the impact right in the gut.

Surround Sound Presentation: The ambiance is upped a bit especially when you have characters creeping around unseen in the darkness. It makes for some quite startling moments here and there.

Dialogue Reproduction: A Walk Among The Tombstones is still a thriller but does have its spoken-word moments in tact. Dialogue is crisp, clear, and clean. It was distortion free and I noticed no echoing or clipping.


A Walk Among The Tombstones


This is where they drop the ball. They skimped on the extras hard. All we get is a typical cast/crew featurette and a neat featurette that features author Lawrence Block talking about the character he created. A DVD and Digital HD copy are also included.

  • Bonus Feature: A Look Behind the Tombstones (HD) – Here’s a short featurette of the typical variety where the cast and crew talk about how great the project was, etc. It’s nothing special but to see that they actually shot most of this on location minus green screen was nice.
  • Blu-ray Exclusive: Matt Scudder: Private Eye (HD) – This could have been a very cool featurette had it been expanded a bit. It runs for just over 6-minutes and has author Lawrence Block discussing his character and his thoughts on Neeson portraying his character.



A Walk Among The Tombstones


A Walk Among The Tombstones is one of the better crime thrillers to have come out in 2014, with Neeson delivering a more reserved performance of a troubled and downbeat former police officer. In retrospect I can see why the film didn’t set the world on fire. The material is uber dark and violent and not everyone’s cup of tea. I would highly recommend that people give it a shot on Blu-ray since the Blu-ray looks and sounds phenomenal. I’m disappointed that they skimped on the extras but that’s how it goes.


Order A Walk Among The Tombstones on Blu-ray!

A Walk Among The Tombstones


Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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